The 40th Anniversary of Earth Day is fast approaching on April 22, 2010. What better time is there to lead an Eco-Friendly Club? You have quite an opportunity here to build children’s awareness of the importance of taking care of our friend the Earth which we all call home and how vital it is that we take care of it!

Week 1: Start a Recycling Project and have a Clean up the Campus Day

Take time to explain what recycling is (re-using materials rather than throwing them away in a landfill) and what materials can and cannot be recycled (aluminum, glass, plastic, etc.) Prior to starting your project find a local recycling center that will reimburse you for any recycled materials you bring in and what items they take. Give the children gloves & bags to help clean up the campus. Sort recyclables into the recycling bins you have provided. Another special bonus is that once you have completed your recycling project your group will have earned a little extra spending $money$. You can have the children create a goal for something they would like to obtain for your center such as an outdoor toy or game or have them help choose a charity to donate the funds to. TIP: Large sturdy Rubbermaid containers or trash cans can be used/labeled as your recycling bins.

Week 2: Craft Activity ~ Grocery Bags for Earth Day

Something I have done with the children for the past several years is to have the children participate in making Grocery Bags for Earth Day. The purpose is two-fold. 1) To promote Earth Day Awareness to the local community. 2) To have to children create a usable craft with a message that makes them feel like they are contributing to taking care of the Earth. A few days before Earth Day you can ask a manager at a local grocery store to “borrow” grocery bags. After the children have completed their designs you can return them and ask that they be distributed on Earth Day. TIP: Make sure children do not include any personal information/names on their bags since they will be distributed at a local grocery store.

You can visit http://www.earthdaybags.org/ for more information about to get an Earth Day grocery bags program started at your school/program.

Week 3: Plant a Vegetable Garden

Even if you don’t have a lot of space planting a vegetable garden is still possible and can be a very rewarding experience for children. It also teaches them to appreciate nature from all stages: seed to vegetable.

Some veggies you can include in small planter boxes include: green onions, radishes, tomatoes (such as small fry or patio), and green beans.

1)  Help the children create colorful labels for your veggies.

2) Use a nutrient rich soil such as Miracle Grow to plant your seeds. Make sure to provide adequate soil and space for the seeds.

3) Assign a watering schedule. It is very easy for kids to over water or under water the plants, assigning a schedule and letting the kids know the importance of sticking to it (to keep plants healthy and growing) is essential.

4) Make sure to place your planters in an area with at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Week 4: Solar Pizza Ovens and Our Incredible Earth Awards:

1) This week is all about celebrating the journey the children have made in Incredible Earth Club. You can challenge them to start thinking of ways they can conserve and take care of the Earth in their daily lives. For instance when using paper to draw, using both sides of the paper and not wasting it or placing objects in a recycling bin instead of the trash. Help them to know that even the little things they do can make a difference.

2) You can continue your celebration by warming up a yummy treat in your own homemade solar pizza oven. Cooking foods in it is not recommended but heating up pre-made cookies using the suns rays can feel like eating a freshly baked cookie from the oven!

3) As far as a giveaway or prize for the participants of Our Incredible Earth Club I am inclined to stay away from paper rewards as it doesn’t really keep in theme of the club nor do justice to it. But I have used a fun giveaway made from recycled newspapers that the children just love called ~ SMENCILS! They are scented pencils, and the children really enjoy them.

Taking care of our Earth and environment around us is so vital. If we can help explain that to our youth in a fun and exciting way I think it could do wonders! Do you have any ideas about teaching Eco-friendly ideas to our youth today? Please share, I am eager to hear your ideas.

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